Summer school of Smart Cities 2017 in Sweden and Denmark
If we look at the recent times, round two last years, we can see a lot of conferences and articles in newspapers and magazines which have started to deal with the topic of Smart Cities. The common feature of many of them is that they are not even about the better functioning of cities as themselves, rather than they deal with partial technologies, possibly being usable in cities and municipalities.
The „Summer School of Smart Cities 2017“ had place from 26 June till 30 June 2017. This event was organized by the Slovak Smart Cities klub, together with both the Association of the Slovak Towns and Cities and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. Mayors of several Slovak towns and cities, together with representatives of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic for Investments and Informatization, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic and the Union of Building Entrepreneurs of Slovakia took part.
The event was aimed to provide information on the concept of intelligent (smart) cities, as well as to present innovative ideas and solutions which had been applied in the creation of public spaces, including transport infrastructure, cycle routes, pedestrian zones, urban green zones, children´s playgrounds, as well as areas for leisure activities of inhabitants. The Nordic countries have a long-term experience and expertise in this field. They spend 3,0 – 4,0 % of their GDPs for research and development and innovations every year. Currently, an attitude or a philosophy concerning the Smart Cities strategy is being radically changed: citizens and quality of life in the City are becoming an important topic, under the simultaneous substantial restriction of personal vehicles use, i. e. the transport infrastructure is to serve to citizens to its maximum, but not to let people to adapt themselves to a technical status of the transport infrastructure.
The study tour was aimed at the better understanding on how the intelligent cities can act and work in terms of managing and applying systems of urban innovations in such countries, which deal with the topic of Smart Cities in a systematic way and already for a long time. The cities like Stockholm, Göteborg, Jönköping, Malmö and Copenhagen are nowadays the world´s superior examples in this area, and they can be considered as the best practice models in terms of quality of life. However, some smaller towns from the Nordic countries can also serve as best practice examples, as well. They could be an excellent inspiration for smaller Slovak towns showing that the concept of Smart Cities is not just a matter of big cities.
Stockholm – example of Subdermal City District which is just being under the regeneration process. Nora Djurgårdsstaden (Stockholm Royal Seaport).
There was a meeting with representatives of one Stockholm´s district which is just revitalizing vast public spaces where a former gas-producing company was located. There, the gas used for lighting and heating was produced from coal for many decades of years. It is an example of revitalization of heavy polluted territory by a very fundamental way – it was necessary to clean up the entire subsoil ground and to get rid of about 120 tons of oils and 180 tons of heavy metals. The whole area must have been revitalized (could be compared with an attitude in Bratislava –Vrakuna district, where a construction was permitted on a field being contaminated by ground water leaking from the nearby landfill).
Another district of Stockholm – Hammarby Sjöstaden (Lake City) – the environmental city district with inspiring public spaces including utilization of water area in water channels which are interconnected with the port of Stockholm. A system of a municipal waste collection and waste separation is a part of this district. The collected and separated waste is transported via underground piping network by use of compressed air to collecting stations for further treatment and processing. Thus, air polluting emissions are minimized, as well as expenditures for waste collection and its transport.
There was a meeting with the Mayor, together with other employees of specific municipal departments of Tranås, who presented how the public administration system works in the Swedish Kingdom.
It becomes clear from the discussion, that the Swedish model of the public administration is much more flexible one, and it is less dependent on the state administration: a substantial part of the municipal income (local taxes and fees which are collected within the reference of a territorial competency of the given municipality) goes to a disposal to that municipality to its direct use – i.e. a respectable financial independence of the municipality. This fact reflects in the long-term plans of the municipality which are developed under the active participation of all municipality´s population, and thus a future „face“ of the municipality is commonly created.
Meeting with representatives of the municipality management, presentation of the municipality in general, and a subsequent discussion on the public administration operation in the Swedish Kingdom.
Here, the discussion was focused mainly on the municipality operation with focus to the weakest members of the city population – seniors, handicapped people, but also children and youth. Those areas, together with a strategic management of the municipality represent a substantial part of the municipal work.
The visitors from Slovakia noticed, that Sweden consisted of 290 municipalities, which were responsible for the municipal matters – in comparison to more than 2900 villages and towns and city districts in Slovakia. The Swedish public administration seems to be significantly more effective, and the majority of sources are thus utilized for reasonable investments.
Jönköping – belongs to the top European Smart Cities
The meeting with reresentatives of the City administration, as well as with companies taking part in a development of smart solutions within the Smart Cities Strategy, was also full of information. The label „Smart“ is not used in this City, however, a systematic application of municipal innovations on the city level has resulted in a situation that the City and its population are now focused on application of innovations in their everyday life. The innovations have become a part of the municipal life and the management of the City. Thus, it is not necessary to indicate innovations as a special category.
A visit of the municipal park in Jönköping was a beautiful example of sustainable improvement of the quality of urban life – the park is a relaxing zone, which serves to a relaxation of citizens either on a daily base or during weekends, having there a large child´s playground, sporting area equipped with a football stadium, small open-air museum, as well as various spaces for different leisure activities. The park has been systematically constructed and enlarged for more than last twenty years, and it became the most important and the safest area, where the people meat each other – children, youth, adults, seniors…,
Green City 2021- the project which has been already running nearly since a decade. Based on the chief architect of the City, the project is influencing not only to the „face of city“, but it also interferes with people´s minds very positively – the people become a part of the decision-making process and creating a future of their town. The developers co-operate with respective departments of the municipality from the early beginning of their investment plans. An interactive room has been established to serve for discussions on developing plans of the city – a hall with a big model of the city on the coast, opposite to the Opera House. The city also applies a digital 3D- model of the City, which facilitates planning of new objects, as well as construction proceedings. The participants of the Summer School had an opportunity to meet and to discuss with the authors of the Green City 2021 Project – mainly the mayors of the Slovak municipalities were impressed by the project and they considered it as an important inspiration to be followed.
Turning Torso building is a dominating architectural jewel of the City of Malmö designed by Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish architect. The Slovak group had an opportunity to admire (from the 53 floor of the Torso building) an excellent work, which has been carried out by the City when transforming the non-functional brown field (former shipyard) to the fully functional housing and administrative premises, which are interconnected with the nearby park and the university – a very clear example, how it is possible to militate against a crisis. Instead of one big employer –the former shipyard, where suddenly 20 thousand of people lost their jobs, notably from day to the other one, it has been succeeded to employ even more people in small and medium enterprises, start-ups, creative industry, etc. in a short period of time. A good running relationship between the municipality and the university was a base for such an amazing development.
The housing premise of BO 01 represents a high-quality example of the residential architecture, a sophisticated mobility scheme including the parking strategy. All these items are interconnected with inspiring public spaces.
This excursion seemed to be an excellent best practice example for architects and construction engineers who took part in the Summer School.
Mainly the construction engineers are those who actively support the Smart Cities concepts in Slovakia via the Association of Building Entrepreneurs. It is not only to help to create a legitimate business space, but mainly because they feel socially responsible for that what is constructed in our country and which future might be created in our country.
We could see a well-running co-operation between the public and private sectors in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, where such a co-operation has been working since decades. The city of Copenhagen is interconnected with the City of Malmö by means of the Oresund bridge, and thus this common region seems to be one of three European regions with the most dynamical urban development.
This fact was also confirmed during our visit at the GEHL Architects atelier, where we participated in a very interesting presentation focused on a development of public spaces and designing cycling routes in compliance with the Smart Cities strategy. The GEHL Architects is a world-wide renowned company which developed several Smart Cities concepts and strategies in the biggest towns in the World. Thus, its presentation was very authentic and inspiring. Everything could be done – it is only necessary to think the concept carefully, to be oriented towards outputs and to be courageous to implement them – a good outcoming message of the visit, isn´t it?
Conclusion – What were we pleased by:
Slovak municipalities together with the Union of the Slovak cities and towns try to define their ways of appropriate developments relying more and more on innovations and modern forms of urban management.
The Slovak economic diplomacy starts to be very active in the field of know-how transfers and the best practices from abroad, with the effort to support the prosperity focal points in our country.
Slovak businessmen can see that the Slovak municipalities and the State bodies could their partners in development plans more and more – not only as participants in public procurements or not only as business partners.
The event met its goal. Representatives of both the Slovak municipalities and the State Administration had an opportunity to see ideas of building intelligent cities in the Kingdom of Sweden, and partially also in the Kingdom of Denmark. During this event, we took our chance to “look into the kitchen” of various creators of the smart strategies in two of the most important Nordic countries.
Thus, the Slovak Smart Cities Club fulfills its role as a partner of the Slovak municipalities and Slovak regions in their efforts to find nice inspirations for defining their own intentions in building smart cities in Slovakia.